[lug] Using Debian

J. Wayde Allen wallen at lug.boulder.co.us
Mon Oct 7 13:18:27 MDT 2002

On Mon, 7 Oct 2002, John Hernandez wrote:

> I'm a RH user, but have often contemplated trying Debian.  One thing
> that has held me back to some extent is that I'm not sure if it's easy
> to find new software pre-packaged in apt (.deb?) format.

Actually it is very easy.  Most usual packages are available in .deb
format, and tools like dselect allow you to browse the database of
available software.  I keep thinking that there must be a way to do this
in Red Hat, but so far this ability elludes me.  Also see

On the flip side of the coin, the RPM package system also works with the
Debian package manager so if there is no .deb package you can use the rpm
packages.  If that fails use the source.

>  Is that what the "unstable" repository is all about?  If it provides
> relatively new software, how far behind does it tend to be, and is it
> fairy comprehensive compared to, say, rpmfind?

The unstable repository, as I understand it, is for packages and software
that have not been completely tested according to the Debian
standards.  All of the archives are browseable using dselect.  This
rpmfind may be the Red Hat analog?  Is this the program that Sean was
working on a couple years back?

> Some explanation of stable vs unstable and debian versioning in general
> might be helpful to me.  For example, does a stable update ever involve
> a software version change, or do they only backport security-related
> patches?



> Does apt-get allow interactive choice between stable and newer
> (presumably unstable) packages if your sources list includes both?

Yes, at least when using it via dselect.  See:


> Also, if I have robust 'net connectivity here, is a network (ftp, http)
> install from a nearby mirror reasonable, or should I download (iso's?)
> and go from there?

Yeah, it is really nice.  Almost all of my machines here at the DOC labs
(NIST, NTIA/ITS) are installed this way.  It is pretty slick, but does
take some time.  I simply fire up the installer, use dselect to pick what
I want on the system and hit the install button.  Then I go work on other
things.  I check the machine occasionally and answer any questions that
pop up and typically have a nicely working system by the end of the day.

- Wayde
  (wallen at lug.boulder.co.us)

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